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The Rev. William Klock: “Expositional Preaching”

February 22, 2010

Because we have been thinking about working to revive historic Anglicanism (here and on other blogs), I find the timing of the new sermon series by the Rev. William Klock of Living Word REC in British Columbia to be fortuitous.  I say that because Fr. Bill is preaching a series on “Marks of a Healthy Church” which is certainly a subject we all need to be considering, and his first sermon is on Expositional Preaching.  He does an excellent job of talking about the “marks of a healthy church” at the beginning of this, and I will quote what he has to say on this:

This morning we’re starting a new sermon series.  For the next couple of months, I’m going to be preaching on the marks of a healthy church.  So what is a “mark” and what does it have to do with the Church?  Well, it was the Protestant Reformers who first talked about “marks” of a church.  They were thinking in terms of what defined the church.  Up until that point no one had given it much thought.  The Church was the Church.  But the Reformers realised that there are those groups out there that may be playing at church, that look like a church in a lot of ways, but that really aren’t.  And so they came to define the true Church in terms of two “marks” on which they were all in agreement.  The German, French, Swiss, and British reformers all came to the same conclusion.  Article XIX of our own Articles of Religion puts it this way:

The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.

We may have our differences from place to place, but every true church is marked by two things: First, the faithful preaching of God’s Word, and second, the administration of the Sacraments – of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.

Here’s why Word and Sacrament are critical.  God’s Word creates his people. You cannot be the Church without hearing his Word.  But it’s not enough merely to hear the Word.  You also have to submit to it—your have to let it shape and mould you.  Jesus ordained two Sacraments as means of grace and commanded us to continue in them.  The first was Baptism—the cleansing water that God chose to be the outward sign and seal of our being cleansed from sin and immersed in his Holy Spirit.  The second was the Lord’s Supper—the holy meal that serves as an outward and visible sign and seal of the new life we have in Jesus.  In both we find the grace of God, but in being faithful to Jesus’ command to continue in both of them, we show the first and most basic steps of obedience to the Word.

If the Word is not preached, men and women will never know God.  And if they do not participate in the Sacraments, they cut themselves off from the grace of God and disobey him.  The two most basic marks of the Church are the preaching of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments.  If either one is missing, you’re only playing at church.

To me this is very important because so many Anglicans now seem to think the Sacraments are enough.  But if I am reading Fr. Bill correctly, the preaching of the Word is equally as important – and I believe he is being faithful to both the Scriptures and the heritage of our Anglican forefathers when he says that.  I commend the rest of his message to you, to see what he says about the importance of preaching the Word – or you can listen to it here.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 22, 2010 1:52 am

    When the Reverend Mr Knock says that the”German, French, Swiss and British reformers all came to the same conclusion” he is in error. There is a very clear difference between what the English did and what became of the others and that is shown in the Book of Common Prayer. Preaching in the late medieval Church was a very big thing and the sermon commonly lasted as long as the service in which it was included, i.e., the Mass or whatever else it was called. Latimer once preached a semon that lasted twice as long as the high mass in which it was set because in the middle of his sermon, Cardinal Wolsey himself arrived.

    What the Book of Common Prayer provided was that after the service of Morning Prayer, the Litany and Ante-Communion, a sermon would be preached and if a sufficient number had given the priest notice of their intention to communicate the priest would finish the service. At cathedrals and collegiate churches the eucharist would always be celebrated because the chapter was ordered to make their communion with the celebrant. But the word came less in form of the sermon than in the psalms sung or recited, the two lessons in Morning Prayer and the Epistle and Gospel of the communion service now read in a language understood of the people (except in Wales and Ireland).

    Fof all of Calvin’s high eucharistic doctrine nothing like this became the norm where either his followers or Luthers prevailed. Oh, they got the sermon but never quite in the pattern which had been that of the Church’s since the days immediately following the Ascension and Pentecost. And unfortunately they were also able to all but destroy the prayer book system in England itself. The major problem with a service whose center, whose climax is “The Sermon” is that the Preacher rather than the divine Logos generally becomes the star. We forget that it is impossible to preach “the pure Word of God” unless the actions of the preacher in God’s church do so as well as his words; they too must be obedient to His commands.

    The one sure way of ensuring that “the pure Word of God” is actually preached is for the priest’s life and actions in the parish, mission or cathedral to match what we read in Acts 2:42, i.e., “and they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship and in the breaking of bread and prayers.” This means, above all other things, obedience to the prayer book pattern in life and routine of the minster because it is that which sets forth most fully the totality of the “doctrine, discipline and worship . . . of the church.” The deacon, priest or bishop who truly wants his people to know and love God’s Word can only do so if they see him in the totality of all his actions as its servant.

    • February 23, 2010 12:39 am

      Thanks very much for your comment. I actually would not see any conflict between what Fr. Bill wrote (which I read as being specifically that point he was making about the English Reformers’ concept of the “marks of the church” being in agreement with the Continental Reformers’ view on that point – and I do think Article XIX bears that out) and most of what you write about the Book of Common Prayer. I agree with you that the English Reformation truly did take its own path in the structure and practice of the worship service; indeed, there is a true genius in the design of the Prayer Book, in my view.

      To me, we need both Word and Sacrament as intrinsic to the marks of the church, and that is what I got out of the sermon by Fr. Bill. But you are one hundred percent correct that the life of the clergyman has to match Acts 2:42ff. I have known clergy who could preach “with the tongues of angels” but as 1 Corinthians 13 shows us very clearly, since they “lacked charity”, their messages were vitiated. On the other hand I know of a couple of priests who may not be the best preachers but their lives bring a certain force to their words, and they are faithful in their adherence to the Prayer Book. Your statement that “The deacon, priest or bishop who truly wants his people to know and love God’s Word can only do so if they see him in the totality of all his actions as its servant” is pure gold!

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